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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 January, 2005, 17:38 GMT
Ulster 23-14 Connacht
Ulster's Andy Ward is challenged by Matt Lacey of Connacht
Ulster: (10) : 23
Tries: Bowe, Steinmetz
Cons: Humphreys 2
Pens: Humphreys 3
Connacht: (9): 14
Tries: Jackman
Pen: Warwick 3
Att: 7,900
Ulster leapfrogged over Connacht into seventh place in the Celtic League after a deserved win over their Irish rivals at a gale-lashed Ravenhill.

Inspired by fly-half David Humphreys who kicked 13 points, Ulster scored a try in either half by Tommy Bowe and Paul Steinmetz.

Connacht never gave up and replied through three Paul Warwick penalties and a try by hooker Bernard Jackman.

It took a third penalty in injury-time by Humphreys to deny Connacht a point.

It was the inspirational fly-half who edged Ulster ahead in the sixth minute with a well-judged kick into the teeth of a gale.

That was equalled and bettered by Warwick with two quick-fire penalties to edge the visitors ahead at the end of the first quarter.

But then came the breakthrough with Humphreys initiating the move which saw Bowe swooping on a kick through by scrum-half Kieran Campbell.

Humphreys converted with a magnificently-judged touchline conversion before Warwick cut back the deficit with his third penalty.

Ulster, however, with the strong wind at their tails, took off after the break when Humphreys rifled over a penalty from the half-way line and then initiated a second try.

Gaining possession on the ''22'', Humphreys put through a delicate kick for Steinmetz to dive on the ball despite his shirt being tugged by a Connacht defender.

But Ulster let their guard slip in the 55th minute when they failed to clear a kick by Connacht scrum-half Chris Keane and Jackman nipped in between two defenders to score.

With the game in injury-time Connacht were again penalised and Humphreys denied the western province a bonus point and success which they last tasted in Belfast 44 years ago.

Ulster: Cunningham; Bowe, Steinmetz, Maggs, Howe; Humphreys Campbell; R McCormack, R Best, Moore, Longwell, McCullough, Feather, capt, N Best, Wilson.
Replacements: Shields, Shawe, Frost, Ward, Doak, Larkin, Bell.

Connacht: Mostyn, Meagher, Yapp, Downey, McPhillips, Warwick, Keane, Hogan, Jackman, Bracken, Short, Farley, Swift, Lacey, J. O'Sullivan.
Replacements: Fogerty, Clarke, Myburgh, Muldoon, Tierney, Elwood, Robinson.

Referee: Donal Courtney (IRFU).



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